Pentagon: Millions could be cut from Ga. military projects to cover border wall

HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

President Donald Trump could siphon upwards of $260 million from Georgia military construction projects to pay for a wall on the Southern border, according to a Pentagon estimate being circulated by Senate Democrats.

Funding for more than a half-dozen Army, Navy and Air Force projects from Albany to Augusta could be affected. That includes $99 million for a cyber instructional facility at Fort Gordon, nearly $31 million for a hangar at Moody Air Force base and more than $75 million for a combat vehicle warehouse and body repair shop at Albany’s Marine Corps Logistics Base.

It's still unclear which specific projects the Trump administration will effectively delay to cover $3.6 billion in new border barrier, and not all of the projects on the Pentagon's $12.9 billion list will ultimately be tapped for funding.

Still, the list is the most concrete to emerge since President Trump declared a national emergency on Feb. 15. The White House has broad authority under such a declaration to divert funding from military construction projects, and it until recently had balked at Democrats' request for a list of projects on the chopping block.

Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said Monday that the Pentagon will only select from projects with contracts that have not been awarded before Oct. 1, 2019. He emphasized that no military housing would be affected.

Democrats have accused Shanahan of hiding the list of projects as lawmakers considered a resolution disapproving of border move over the last several weeks. Both chambers of Congress ultimately passed that Democrat-authored resolution, resulting in the first veto of Trump’s presidency.

None of Georgia’s 16 members of Congress have weighed in on the list, which was sent to lawmakers late Monday. That includes the Georgians who serve on the House and Senate Armed Service committees and budget-writing appropriations panels.

The disapproval resolution divided the delegation along strict party lines. But the vote total obscured what had been a tough decision for many Republicans who have spent their Washington careers seeking to protect the state's nine military bases but are also under immense pressure to support the president's every move.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the emergency “a slap in the face to our military that makes our border and the country less secure.”

Trump is “planning to take funds from real, effective operational priorities and needed projects and divert them to his vanity wall. That may help shore up his political base, but it could come at the expense of our military bases and the men and women of our Armed Forces who rely on them,” said Reed, whose office released Shanahan’s document.

Democrats are not expected to secure enough support to override the president’s veto when House members cast their votes next week.

The Pentagon list included $271 million worth of Georgia projects, but funding for at least one of the eight local projects has already been taken off the table. The Army awarded a contract last month for the construction of a 12-story air traffic control tower at Fort Benning.

Read more: 

ExploreIsakson, Perdue vote to uphold Trump’s border emergency
ExploreGeorgia U.S. House members vote with parties on Trump emergency
ExploreHow Isakson approached the border emergency debate 
ExploreTrump’s emergency declaration draws support, protests in Georgia
ExploreIsakson is wary of a Trump declaration of emergency
ExploreSavannah port boosters: Fed funding safe under national emergency
ExploreSearch for wall funds could hit Georgia projects
ExploreWhite House: Trump won’t tap Tybee, natural disaster funding to bankroll wall

In Other News